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Ivan Reitman

Ivan ReitmanOctober 27, 1946, Komarrno, Czechoslovakia


Ivan Reitman began making films in his student days and has been associated with some of the biggest box office successes in Canadian cinema ever since. At age four, Reitman arrived in Canada with his parents, who had survived the Holocaust. He graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, with a major in music. He began directing and producing films professionally in the early 1970s, demonstrating a keen instinct for box office gold.

At 23, Reitman was fined $300 and sentenced to a year’s probation for Columbus of Sex (1969), based on the Victorian novel My Secret Life. It was the first and only Canadian feature film to be banned by the Ontario Board of Censors. He followed up with Foxy Lady (1971) and then Cannibal Girls (1973), a crude low-budget horror that Reitman sold for a handsome profit to American International at the Cannes Film Festival. He also produced David Cronenberg’s breakthrough features — Shivers (1974) and Rabid (1976) — and the animated Heavy Metal (1981), winner of the MPSE’s Golden Reel Award. Reitman produced and directed Meatballs (1979), Bill Murray’s first lead in a film. Meatballs is still one of the highest grossing Canadian features ever made.

Reitman then turned to theatre, producing magician Doug Henning’s The Magic Show, a five-year hit on Broadway. Reitman’s off-Broadway production of The National Lampoon Show evolved into the Universal feature National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), which was John Belushi’s first film and a huge box office hit. Its ironic, moronic, defiant, foul-mouthed, anti-establishment humour was just right for its time; Reitman would come to be regarded as one of the greatest influences on North American comedy. If finger pointing is necessary for the “dumbing down” of American humour in the 1980s, Reitman is a prime target.

He built an impressive career as one of the most reliable director-producers in Hollywood. He had a string of hits, such as Stripes (1981), again with Bill Murray and a host of Canadians, including John Candy; and Ghostbusters (1984), one of the most successful comedies of all time and a huge influence on 1980s North American pop culture. With Canadians in the roles of screenwriter, producer, director and principal cast, it has often been said that Ghostbusters is the most successful Canadian film ever financed in the United States. Inevitably, Reitman made a sequel, Ghostbusters II, in 1989. He gave a comic twist to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s teutonic stereotype in a trio of films: Twins (1988), Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Junior (1994).

However, in the 1990s, Reitman’s comedies were subtler, less frantic and vulgar, and were played by some of the biggest stars in the business — Dave (1993) with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver; Fathers’ Day (1996) with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams; and Six Days, Seven Nights (1998) with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche. He returned to old form with Evolution in 2001.

By Wyndham Wise

Film and video work includes

Orientation, 1968 (director)
Columbus of Sex, 1969 (cinematographer; producer)
Foxy Lady, 1971 (director; editor; producer; music)
Cannibal Girls, 1973 (director; executive producer)
Shivers, 1974 (producer; music)
Death Weekend, 1975 (producer; music)
Rabid, 1976 (producer; music)
Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia, 1977 (producer)
Blackout, 1978 (executive producer)
National Lampoon’s Animal House, 1978 (producer)
Delta House series, 1979 (executive producer; TV)
Meatballs, 1979 (director; producer)
Heavy Metal, 1981 (producer)
Stripes, 1981 (director; producer)
Spacehunter (Adventures in the Forbidden Zone), 1983 (executive producer)
Ghostbusters, 1984 (director; producer)
Legal Eagles, 1986 (director; writer; producer)
Big Shots, 1987 (executive producer)
Casual Sex?, 1988 (executive producer)
Feds, 1988 (executive producer)
Twins, 1988 (director; producer)
Ghostbusters II, 1989 (director; producer)
Kindergarten Cop, 1990 (director; producer)
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, 1991 (producer)
Beethoven, 1992 (executive producer)
Beethoven’s 2nd, 1993 (executive producer)
Dave, 1993 (director; producer)
Beethoven series, 1994-1995 (executive producer; TV)
Junior, 1994 (director; producer)
The Late Shift, 1995 (executive producer)
Commandments, 1996 (executive producer)
Father’s Day, 1996 (director; producer)
Private Parts, 1996 (producer)
Space Jam, 1996 (producer)
The First Gentleman, 1998 (executive producer; TV)
Mummies Alive! The Legend Begins, 1998 (executive producer)
Six Days, Seven Nights, 1998 (director; co-producer with Wallis Nicita, Roger Birnbaum)
Road Trip, 1999 (co-executive producer with Tom Pollock)
EuroTrip, 2004 (co-executive producer with Tom Pollock, Joe Medjuck)
Evolution, 2001 (director; co-producer with Joe Medjuck, Daniel Goldberg) 
Alienators: Evolution Continues series, 2001 (co-executive producer with Andy Heyward, Michael Maliani, Joe Medjuck et al.; TV)
Killing Me Softly, 2002 (co-executive producer with Daniel Goldberg, Tom Pollock)
Old School, 2002 (co-executive producer with Tom Pollock)
My Super Ex-Girlfriend, 2006 (director)

Note: Updated to August  2006



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